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This idyllic island is named for a publicity stunt. In 1918, a wealthy landowner wanted to drum up interest in his island lots, and pretended to find buried treasure on the beach. Word spread and the name stuck, despite the lack of gold coins. The town has embraced its apocryphal fib, using a pirate in its town logo and placing a cartoonish pirate statue, a favored prop for photos, in Treasure Island Community Park. Luckily, the three miles of white sand beaches and limpid blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico are entirely real. A little paradise, this town is all about making the most of its coastline where people sunbathe, parasail, snorkel, and stroll the shore. Restaurants and bars line the sand, lending the place a convivial endless-summer atmosphere and beach cottages and bubbly mid-century architecture dot the town. Located just 20 minutes from St. Petersburg and 45 minutes from Tampa, Treasure Island is a relaxing base for exploring all the area has to offer.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) is the closest to Treasure Island, just 15 miles away. Shuttles, taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are available at the airport and will get you the rest of the way to your destination. A rental car is your best option for sightseeing outside Treasure Island. The Suncoast Beach Trolley, which runs seven days a week and on holidays, connects the town to nearby beach communities.
Winter and spring are high seasons for Treasure Island, when balmy weather tempts visitors from colder locales. In November, the beachfront becomes a spectacular art display when the town hosts a sand sculpture competition. Fall is a low season, ideal for the crowd-averse. Summers can be hot and humid, and usher in occasional thunderstorms. Hurricane season is roughly from the beginning of June until the end of November, so take that into account while trip planning.
Treasure Island’s main beach, located mid-island, is wide and popular. You’ll find plenty of amenities here, such as restaurants and shops, as well as a paved trail filled with cyclists, joggers, and rollerbladers. It’s sandwiched by less trafficked beaches — Sunshine Beach to the north and Sunset Beach to the south — where you’ll find sand dunes, gently waving beach grasses, and wooden walkways.
Overlooking Boca Ciega Bay, this city-run sports complex has eight tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a sand volleyball court, two shuffleboard courts, a pirate ship playground, and three pickleball courts. Pickleball, a game that claims to be a mixture of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. It especially has a foothold in Florida, where the US Open Championships are played in Naples.
Kayaks are the preferred way to get around this picturesque 1,800-acre nature preserve located about 25 minutes from Treasure Island. Paddle among majestic mangrove trees as you explore this undeveloped barrier island, where you may encounter manatees and dolphins in the clear gulf waters. For a unique experience, opt for a nighttime kayak tour in a clear-bottomed vessel outfitted with LED lights that allows you to see into the waters after dark.